MITCHELL – About 100 volunteers descended on a field of sweet corn on Saturday, Aug. 25, to take part in the Simplot Farmer’s Feeding the Hungry Sweet Corn Event at Mike Hoehn’s farm east of Mitchell.
The event is in its second year and Becky Randall, seed marketing representative with Simplot Grower Solutions helped coordinate the volunteers and was in the field picking corn.
“We have five acres of sweet corn we’re picking for Foodbank of the Heartland,” she said. “They will then deliver the corn across Nebraska.
The volunteers began picking around 8 a.m. to fill boxes, like the ones, which have watermelons in the stores. Forty-two of the boxes will be loaded on the Foodbank of the Heartland semi and several other boxes will be picked up by area food pantries.
The Scottsbluff FFA Chapter was at the event volunteering.
“Our FFA leader Mr. (Alan) Held asked, who wants to go help pick corn on Saturday and we volunteered,” said Graham Kovarik, a student at Scottsbluff High School. “We want to give back and help out in the community.”
The FFA volunteers will also be picking up service hours.
Kovarik said, some of the challenges of picking sweet corn is knowing which ears are too small for picking and knocking down the stalks after the corn is picked.
“We knock the stalks over. So we’ll know what has been picked, and it’s good for foragers, like deer and others, who will come through and eat,” Kovarik said.
Regular sweet corn usually only has one ear, but Randall said the corn they were picking had one to two really good ears on the stalks.
It’s a boon for the sweet corn pickers and for Foodbank of the Heartland.
“This program helps us save money,” said Mike Gudenrath, food sourcing manager for the food bank. “We’ll have an additional $6,000 to buy produce with later in the year.”
The food bank’s semi will deliver the corn to the warehouse, where more volunteers will separate the corn out into mesh bags.
“The produce will then go out and be delivered to food banks before the upcoming three-day weekend,” Gudenrath said.
Simplot provided the sweet corn seed, and 21st Century planted the plot, then the Hoehns made sure it was irrigated and ready for picking.
Leo Hoehn, who’s son owns the farm was also out at the sweet corn plot. He said they enjoy working with Simplot and 21st Century.
“We were approached by Simplot to plant the corn, we provided the land and they did the rest,” he said.
Before the volunteers even entered the sweet corn plot, Hoehn did some taste testing of the produce.
“I sampled it last night and it was very good.”